As of 06/26/13, The Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. While this doesn’t require states to recognize gay marriages, it does provide gay veterans access to all of the benefits previously denied to them by the department of defense and the VA. Luckily for gay couples, the department of defense goes by the laws of the state in which a couple was married when they are evaluating what benefits a couple is eligible for, which means that any married gay couple (in order to be married they had to be married in a state that recognizes gay marriages).
It is expected that the Department of Veterans Affairs will be changing their policy of marriage being between two people of opposite genders to be in accordance with the Supreme Court decision. The Obama administration had already said that it would no longer defend the law on veterans benefits, but republicans were still fighting to keep the law the same. The vote in the supreme court was characteristically close, however, at a 5-4 final vote, which seems to be relatively common as of late.
The Department of Defense has full intentions to change any of their policies which conflict with the Supreme Court decision immediately, opening the doors to thousands of gay veterans to receive the benefits that their heterosexual counterparts have been enjoying for years. There are also some policies concerning overseas tours that will need adjustment and will be evaluated and updated as soon as possible.
Many notable Republicans were quiet on the subject, often directing the topic of conversation to something else, while noting that there’s no point in continuing to pursue the protection of the Defense of Marriage Act. There are, however, many concerns with the additional expenses that the Department of Defense is going to incur in response to opening the gates at this time.
The Pentagon is already facing strong pressure to keep the budget low, and with “personnel costs” reportedly growing faster than their budget, the addition of as many as 17,000 servicemembers and their dependents who will be utilizing benefits will put a severe strain on the already stretched budget. But many are saying that the financial cost of the policy change is insignificant compared to what the country is losing by instituting the policy.
While same-sex marriage is a very hot topic, few people bother to truly understand why those who disagree with them feel the way they do. The one side of the debate is relatively straightforward: personal choice, individual liberty, and freedom to love whomever one chooses and receive the same benefits that others who are in love with the persons of their choice are receiving.
The other side of the debate isn’t quite as simple, but is, to those who stand on this side, just as potent and inspiring as its opposite. While it may seem silly to grant so much weight to a single word: “marriage”, when viewed in the lens of belief, it begins to make more sense. Certainly an atheist could understand why a Christian would be bothered by a new smartphone coming out that was called, “The Jesus”, as Jesus has very deep significance and meaning to a Christian. The name Jesus is sacred and special, and should be treated with respect. To many religious individuals, the word “marriage” is sacred in a similar (though lesser) way, and means a man and a woman committing to love and care for one another for the rest of their lives.
While the author will remain neutral as to which side of the debate he lies on, as a father he can empathize with the desire to do everything in his power to make sure his children are brought up in a way that will help his children make the best and happiest choices they could make. It is understandable why many Christians feel that widespread acceptance of homosexuality will have a negative influence on their children.
But regardless of which side of the debate one stands on, the decision by the Supreme Court will enable gay veterans to receive all of the benefits of their heterosexual counterparts. Also in accordance with the decision, three more states will begin recognizing same-sex marriages on August 1st. It is expected that many more states will follow suit.